UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

Cancer Prevention

Early Lung CancerThe CEPP Cancer Prevention group is focused on developing and evaluating novel methods for primary and secondary cancer prevention. Current areas of emphasis include:

  1. Pre-clinical studies and randomized clinical trials to evaluate the anti-carcinogenic effects of dietary and biological agents, and to evaluate the benefits of state-of-the-art screening methods, on reducing cancer mortality; and
  2. Discovery and validation of biomarkers for early cancer detection.

Selected Publications

  • Pancreatic cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced stage and it has a poor prognosis that points to an increased need to develop effective chemoprevention strategies for this disease. CEPP members found that phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC), a naturally occurring isothiocyanate found in cruciferous vegetables, inhibited pancreatic cancer cell growth, induced G2/M phase cell cycle arrest, and induced apoptosis. Oral administration of PEITC suppressed the growth of pancreatic cancer cells in a xenograft animal model, supporting further investigation of PEITC as a chemopreventive agent for pancreatic cancer. (Stan et. al., Nutr Cancer. 2014;66(4):747-55.)
  • Broccoli sprouts are a convenient and rich source of the glucosinolate, glucoraphanin, which can generate the chemopreventive agent, sulforaphane, an inducer of glutathione S-transferases (GST) and other cytoprotective enzymes. In a 12-week randomized trial conducted in the rural He-He Township of Qidong, China, intervention with a broccoli sprout-derived beverage providing daily doses of glucoraphanin and sulforaphane was found to enhance the detoxication of some airborne pollutants, and may therefore provide a frugal means to attenuate their associated long-term health risks. (Egner et. al., Cancer Prev Res. 2014 Aug;7(8):813-23.)
  • Using prospectively collected serum samples from participants in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial (PLCO), a multi-institutional collaboration, CEPP investigators demonstrated that a new set of biomarkers including CA 19-9, CEA and Cyfra 21-1 had greater power than CA 19-9 alone in discriminating pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma cases from healthy subjects, particularly in samples collected more than one year prior to diagnosis. (Nolen et. al., PLoS One. 2014 Apr 18;9(4):e94928.)


Brand, Randall, MD
O'Keefe, Stephen, MD, MSc
Diergaarde, Brenda, PhD
Human Genetics
Schoen, Robert, MD, MPH
Hu, Jing, MD, PhD
Pharmacology & Chemical Biology
Singh, Shivendra, PhD
Pharmacology & Chemical Biology
Kensler, Thomas, PhD
Pharmacology & Chemical Biology
Whitcomb, David, MD, PhD
Lokshin, Anna, PhD
Yuan, Jian-Min, MD, PhD